Saturday, April 2, 2011

Lyric Lessons: Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise

Last night, Kristen and I went to see Band of Horses and The Avett Brothers in concert. We had seen The Avett Brothers (TAB) before, but that in no way lessened the truly fantastic performance they gave as they always do. As I was listening to the songs though, I realized that so many of their lyrics were deep, and could be used in the context of spiritual things if twisted just slightly. With that thought, I decided to do a short series of posts based around their lyrics, which is also good since I haven't posted anything in four months.

TAB opened with a new song titled "Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise." About this song, TAB said:

Scott - "The "Darkness" song! I don't want to sell out the song, because some people will get other meanings from it, but the reference to darkness came from looking around and thinking, things look great but I don't know about this. 'Things look great, things and they sure are pretty and they sure are moving fast, but something does not feel right.' With all of the traveling we do, things can feel menacing at times when you are in a new town and around strange people, and that was written around one of those shopping center areas where I was like, 'This isn't working. It looks like it is, but I don't think it is."

Seth - "The phrase that anchors this song is "there's a darkness upon me that's flooded in light..." and that line refers to these frivolous times where the dark side of life is a lot of times romanticized and made out like it's just fun when really it will destroy a person."

Certainly this can remind someone of the life that is the child of God's. Throughout the Bible we see men of God who have a head full of doubt despite the road full of promise before them: Abram lying about his wife though being promised of God's protection; Job doubting in the midst of suffering while knowing his "redeemer lives"; the Psalmists often crying out to God to remember them and speaking of how far away God felt while following that with a remembrance of how loving, caring and powerful their God was; Peter sinking in the water though knowing who Jesus was and the power He had; Peter again as he denied an association with the Christ in fear of death.

Christians today still face these same problems. Despite the road full of promise before us, we look at temporal, worldly issues and consequences and let them decide what type of person we will be and how we will act in a given situation. One lyric states that, "your life doesn't change by the man that's elected," and while certainly different policies can have an effect on your physical life, our spiritual status with God never changes, and no man can force us from the palm of God's hand (John 10:28) but we can always change our status ourselves.

The phrase from the song that continues to stick with me is to "decide what to be and go be it." There is a road full of promises, one that leads to eternal life (Matthew 7:14), but we must choose to find it and follow it. God has allowed us freewill out of the never-ending love He has for us. While many use that freewill to create and live in evil, to look at the temporal and let that decide our attitude towards life, to become cynics and pessimists, God wants us to use that freewill to notice and remember the road full of promise before us. Christians doubt. Children of God in every dispensation have had doubts, and acted based on doubts, but they always picked up where they fell and continued on the road full of promise despite having a head full of doubt. We ought to do the same.


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  2. Great comparison, Carl. This is one of my favorite Avett Brothers songs and you brought out some great biblical applications! Thanks for sharing! I'm trying not to be jealous that you've seen them twice, haha! :) (and yes, I did have a typo in my previous comment...)

  3. I feel this song tries to belittle our faith as religious people. When it say: "in the fine print they tell you what's wrong and what's right" and follows it with "like a bird in the cage I broke in and demanded that somebody free it" I think it traces back to the Enlightenment movement in Western Europe where the 'fine print' represents the established authority of the Church being challenged by doubters who represented the movement towards enlightenment. Their main aim was to be driven by reason and not faith. The beauty is in deciding what to be and go be it as it also states. The road will be full of promise if one decides right. But how can one be sure what he decides is actually right? That's where faith and belief has to come again when deciding what to be or follow